These incentives, collectively known as promotions, entice customers to buy more, buy now, or buy more now, offering in exchange various temptations that may come in the form of discounts, bundles, free samples, and coupons
Red tags that scream, “On sale,” “50% off,” “Buy One, Take One,” and “Free” have a hypnotic effect on shoppers. They cause many unplanned purchases, which never fail to make many retailers happy, particularly in times when daily receipts are down. In surviving sales slump (which retailers experience at some point), these tactics tend to build a base among patrons and eat into the competition’s market.
These incentives, collectively known as promotions, entice customers to buy more, buy now, or buy more now, offering in exchange various temptations that may come in the form of discounts, bundles, free samples, and coupons. They are offered either after customers buy, before they buy, or during the sale. Some promos may require simple acts like entering the store, others a complex set of acts such as performing increasingly difficult tasks at various stages of the sale.
Before you perform these ultimate come-ons, note that your ultimate goal is not only to arrest the decline in foot traffic but to be able to sell more items to more customers and this is known as an increase in UPT’s or units per transaction.
THE ‘WOW’ PROMOS
The following are a few simple ways you and your staff can improve your retail sales. Create exceptional or ‘wow’ promotions that can cause the customer to rush to the counter, buy the product, and avail of the promo with little or no regard for the item. You may develop and implement one using any or a combination of these methods:
- Freebies. Customers love to receive free items and services. The Body Shop is famous for its free makeover to customers who try out their products on promo. The additional benefits: This is an exceptional way to do product sampling, and the best way to demonstrate how to use the product.
- Instant contests. Raffles and similar gimmicks are being used to attract new customers and help build a mailing list, which may be used in future offers and promotions. However, customers prefer winning on the spot than having to wait for a raffle in the future. Many groceries offer small prizes for certain purchases like “Spin and Win” where customers get to play to win a prize
- Charity works. Touch the customers’ heartstrings and you create an emotional bond with them. For instance, give a portion of your sales to favorite charitable institutions.
- Community involvement. Community service, especially in your own area of business, is a quick way to get positive publicity. Be a good neighbor to your community. Encourage recycling your product’s packaging or wrapping material.
- Celebrations. Join Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Earth Day, and other occasions. Give regular patrons personalized greeting cards and other celebration offerings. This personal touch fosters loyalty and helps important customers remember your name.
WORK ON YOUR SALES VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Design your store FOR SALES. What does this mean? Create the feel of buying and dress up the entire store like everything will be OFF-THE-SHELVES-IN-INSTANT. Use lighting techniques and creative displays to attract customers. Likewise, take advantage of cross-merchandising strategies for your new products that’s not on part of sales discount promotions and impulse sale opportunities. Play videos for product education and any other upsell or promotional tie-in.
Ever heard of human advertising banner? Your store staff plays a vital role. To compliment your creative visual merchandising, focus on staff uniform with complete head-gear. This will give you the total WOW-PROMO retail effect.
Just when you may think it’s time to cut back the marketing expenses due to the heavy promotional budget allotted for this sales strategy, you should probably be advertising more. Remember, when the economy starts sputtering that’s when savvy retailers take action. It is wise to increase marketing efforts during slower sales periods because there is more competition and consumer purse is stiffer. Consider newspaper ads, internet buzz, email and SMS blasts and other specialty publications.
However, revisit your overall marketing and operational budget. This may seem like an obvious step, but many retail operators or marketers were too involved in marketing the business that they lose track of the financial aspects. Create a budget, know where every dime is being spent, keep an eye on cash flow, cost of goods and that you should be able to make a profit out of this promotional tactics. Your business should be competitive, but still profitable.
Promotions are short-term and temporary, while building brand awareness is a long-term process. Here are some tips on how to make a sales promotion an effective brand-building tool:
- Make sure that the promotion is justified. A new product and a company anniversary make perfect occasions to run a promotion with your brand name front and center. Thematic ones like Back-to-School or Christmas are not enough – they are too generic, and sales normally pick up during these seasons.
- Tie the promotion to brand image. Great examples are the San Miguel Beer’s Oktoberfest. An outstanding promotion kills two birds with one stone: raise sales and build brand awareness.
- Aim it toward a specific, measurable result. Know the desired result and understand the product’s or service’s overall marketing context.
- Evaluate promotions vis-à-vis the before, during, and after sales. If sales continue to go up after the promotion, then some customer gain has been achieved. Your promotions work best when your competitor’s customers try your product, find it to be the better choice, and buy it.
- Find out if it was a “profitable” promotion. It is if it exceeds the profits that would have been made without the promotional offer.
Whether it’s due to forces beyond our control, seasonal sales or a decline in foot traffic, you may experience a slump in sales at some point. So you better gear up during this retail peak period and take advantage with the higher than average number of sales.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justine Castellon is an independent brand strategist, a business writer and founder of The Market Place 2.1 and Company. She provides creative thinking and interpretation of consumer and market insights. You may reach her Justine.firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow her at www.twitter.com/marketplace21